United States District Court, D. Nebraska
JAMES A. COUTTS, Plaintiff,
KEARNEY COUNTY, NEBRASKA, SHERIFF SCOTT WHITE, DEPUTY SHANE MONTHEY, DEPUTY COREY ZIOLA, and DEPUTY JUSTIN GLANZER, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf, Senior United States District Judge.
who is currently incarcerated at the Nebraska State
Penitentiary, filed his Complaint on March 23, 2016 (Filing
No. 1.) Plaintiff was given leave to proceed in
forma pauperis. (Filing No. 7.) Therefore, at this
time, the court will conduct an initial review of
Plaintiff’s claims to determine whether summary
dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
construed, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. Plaintiff also
contends that Defendants discriminated against him by
transporting another inmate to the hospital for medical
treatment, and refusing to transfer him to the hospital.
STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
court is required to review prisoner and in forma pauperis
complaints seeking relief against a governmental entity or an
officer or employee of a governmental entity to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e) and 1915A. The court must dismiss a
complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or
malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to
“nudge their claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”).
essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a
general indication of the type of litigation
involved.’” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir.
1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must be
liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a
lesser pleading standard than other parties.”
Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
construed, Plaintiff alleges federal constitutional claims.
To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff
must allege a violation of rights protected by the United
States Constitution or created by federal statute and also
must show that the alleged deprivation was caused by conduct
of a person acting under color of state law. West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Buckley v.
Barlow, 997 F.2d 494, 495 (8th Cir. 1993).
claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. To
establish a § 1983 claim for deprivation of medical
care, Plaintiff must demonstrate that he suffered objectively
serious medical needs, and that officials actually knew of
but deliberately disregarded those needs. Johnson v.
Hamilton, 452 F.3d 967, 972-73 (8th Cir. 2006).
“Deliberate indifference is equivalent to criminal-law
recklessness, which is more blameworthy than negligence, yet
less blameworthy than purposefully causing or knowingly
bringing about a substantial risk of serious harm to the
inmate.” Schaub v. VonWald, 638 F.3d 905,
914-15 (8th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).
assuming Plaintiff had a serious medical need, Plaintiff has
not adequately alleged that Defendants were each aware that
Plaintiff required immediate medical attention, but were
indifferent to his need for treatment.
also alleges that his right to equal protection was violated
because he was treated differently from another inmate.
However, Plaintiff does not allege he was subject to adverse
treatment based on some constitutionally impermissible
reason. Rather, Plaintiff simply alleges that another inmate
was transported to the hospital for treatment of injuries
sustained in a fight, but he was not. “[M]ere
differential treatment of similarly situated inmates, without
more, fails to allege a violation of the Equal Protection
Clause.” McKensie v. Alabama Department of
Corrections, No. 2:11-CV-97-ID, 2011 WL 1004875, *1
(M.D. Ala. Feb. 24, 2011). Therefore, Plaintiff has failed to
state a viable equal protection claim.
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Kearney County,
Nebraska, because as a municipality, Kearney County can only
be liable under § 1983 if a municipal policy or custom
caused his injury. See Monell v. New York Department of
Social Services,436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). Plaintiff has
failed to plausibly ...